Arthur Mendonca for PRODUCT Toronto by Kate Koler_8205After 20 seasons of delivering fresh new styles with no signs of slowing down, in an industry that is as fickle as it is demanding, it was great to chat with Arthur Mendonça and find out where he started from, about his recent collections, and what the future has in store for this internationally recognizable fashion guru.
Born in Toronto and raised in São Miguel, he returned to Toronto at age 12 with a fondness for sketching and dressing up his sisters. After high school, he decided to pursue fashion design at Ryerson University, whose reputable alumni include David Dixon and Erdam Moraliaglu.
Arthur then landed an internship with NYBased in New York City. It was his first time being away from home; and he was taken with the rush, the eclectic style, and energy of the city. He returned to Canada full of inspirations and ideas. He got involved with TFI, the Toronto Fashion Incubator, which supplied space, machines, and resources to fledgling designers. He and his sister started putting together both men’s and women’s collections in 2003, which created a steady buzz and was well-received by the fashion community. In 2005, he dropped the men’s collection in favour of focusing on a women’s collection and brand expansion, taking his collection down to Los Angeles, where it opened the 2005 Spring Fashion Week with rave reviews.
Arthur Mendonca for PRODUCT Toronto by Kate Koler_8158His team includes Melina De Guglielmo, who is his business developer and implementer, making things happen so he can focus on creating. He also has assistance from George Antonopolous, one of Toronto’s foremost fashion stylists, who helps him with fashion direction. His models have to have a good attitude, be exotic, perky, and fierce. The right attitude is more important than classic beauty. The greatest frustrations he finds during fashion week are people showing up late, last minute fittings, and being rushed back stage. To be a fashion designer is a bit of “sadomasochism,” he confesses, to put oneself out to be judged every six months. The critics can be quick to judge, never realizing how much work goes into the efforts they are presented.
Inspiration for his collections comes from everywhere, from his travels, the different fabrics he comes across, to even something as small as seeing a friend wearing something in a unique way. He recently released a Spring Collection inspired by nature, using bright floral and animal patterns, hemmed in by masterful attention to detail and form. His Fall Collection was inspired by the trends coming from Paris and a studying of metallurgy, oxidization, and the different states of metal. He prefers the sexiness of spring (being much happier in shorts and flip flops) to the layering of fall. But as a designer, Arthur has no preference, as each season presents its own unique challenges.
He has also began working with an Italian firm to have his designs made in Italy, using Skype to relay information, as well as frequent trips to Milan. And has had a showroom in Milan for the last two seasons. In the near future, he aims to expand into South America, starting with Brazil.